The dust has barely settled on 2019, but we’re already ploughing straight into another packed season of motorsport in the UK and around the world. Here’s our handy New Year guide to the key dates you’ll want to remember for 2020.
Key dates for your 2020 motorsport diary
Monte-Carlo Rally – 26th January
As tradition dictates, the ‘big one’ kicks off what promises to be an enthralling World Rally Championship, which promises to be even better than the nail-biting epic of 2019. New world champion Ott Tänak will begin his defence in Monte-Carlo in fresh colours following his switch to Hyundai, while six-time champ Sébastien Ogier makes his debut for Toyota in place of Tänak. Can the Frenchman reclaim his crown and become the first since Juha Kankkunen to win WRC titles for three different manufacturers? The Monte will be our first indication of how it could all play out in 2020.
Australian Grand Prix – 15th March
Formula 1 bursts back into life at Albert Park in Melbourne, as Lewis Hamilton begins his bid to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles. But what will really keep us gripped is if the ‘new-gen’ stars can raise their game to challenge him all season long. Red Bull-Honda’s Max Verstappen is ready to win a world title, if his team is up to the task, while Charles Leclerc has the security of a newly minted five-year contract at Ferrari to boost his confidence and development. Will Sebastian Vettel even get a look-in? He’s a three-time winner at Albert Park and could do with a fourth victory this time to make sure he does.
78th Goodwood Members' Meeting – 28-29th March
The British season gets under way at what is considered by many to be the new jewel on the annual calendar. Unforgettable parades this time will focus on Tom Walkinshaw Racing’s 1980s Group C Jaguars and Formula 1 cars from ‘The 72 years’ – celebrating the Lotus 72 and its rivals from the model’s period lifespan from 1970 to ’75.
BTCC Donington Park – 29th March
Further north, the crash-bang-wallop British Touring Car Championship will also be taking its 2020 bow over the final weekend of March. Colin Turkington is back with West Surrey Racing’s crack BMW squad as he attempts to become the series’ first five-time champion. But 2019 title rival Andrew Jordan also returns, having secured full BMW support after losing his long-time title sponsor, and the 2013 champion will be fired up to repay that faith. It’s going to be intense.
Vietnamese Grand Prix – 5th April
The most unlikely F1 destination yet? Perhaps. But forget cliched perceptions: capital city Hanoi is a thriving, modern south-east Asian metropolis that has everything modern F1 looks for in a grand prix venue. The hybrid 3.48-mile street and purpose-built circuit looks promising and F1 will go all-out to attract both local and international fans. New F1 races are always intriguing and this one is more than most.
Dutch Grand Prix – 3rd May
A month later, F1 returns to an old favourite, Zandvoort, for the first time since 1985. The place is supposedly being modernised to bring it up to scratch for modern F1, but with many thousands of rabid Dutch fans turning out to cheer on Verstappen, will it be chaos getting in and out? If you’re going, it might be best to head for the circuit in the sand dunes now…
Indianapolis 500 – 24th May
Still America’s greatest race (certainly from a European perspective), we’re waiting to hear if Fernando Alonso will return for a third attempt to conquer the Brickyard after his embarrassing failure to qualify last year. With or without him, IndyCar’s blue riband spectacle remains among the most jaw-dropping in motorsport.
Le Mans 24 Hours – 13-14th June
Toyota will be bidding for a hat-trick as the once-great LMP1 category bows out. Privateers are taking the fight to the Japanese marque in the other World Endurance Championship rounds, but at Le Mans? Anything other than a third straight Toyota win looks a long shot.
Goodwood Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard – 9-12th July
Always unmissable, always the highlight of the British summer – even when it rains. Watch this space for more details on themes and special appearances for 2020.
British Grand Prix – 19th July
Silverstone’s immediate future as F1’s British destination is now secure, which is a relief – because the old airfield circuit consistently inspires fantastic grands prix. Hamilton will bid to extend his record to seven home wins this July, in front of a fanatical partisan crowd. A week after the Festival of Speed, it’s another labelled unmissable…
London ePrix – 25-26th July
Events come thick and fast in July. Just a week after Silverstone, Formula E returns to Britain for the first time in four years, as the London ePrix hosts a double-header finale to the 2019/20 season. A new circuit based (literally) in and around the ExCel exhibition centre in the Docklands promises a novel spectacle – and a better venue than the narrow and tight Battersea Park track previously used by the all-electric single-seater series. Likely tension from a closely fought title decider will make it even more of an occasion.
DTM & W Series, Brands Hatch – 22nd-23rd August
The annual visit of Germany’s prestigious tin-top series is always a treat, but it was more so last August thanks to the inclusion of W Series in support. In fact, the all-female single-seater series was arguably just as much of a draw as the DTM itself, as Brits Alice Powell won the race and Jamie Chadwick clinched the inaugural title. Both will return this year to continue inspiring a new generation of female racers.
WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone – 5th September
The World Endurance Championship’s British round has added significance this year, as it marks the debut of the new hypercar class that replaces LMP1. Toyota and Aston Martin are the only confirmed major manufacturers for the first season, and there are big questions to answer on the use of Balance of Performance to ensure a level playing field for the all-new regulations. But Silverstone in September will be the start of the future for Le Mans and the WEC, making it one of the most anticipated races of the year.
Goodwood Revival – 11-13th September
As always, the Revival completes Goodwood’s annual trilogy of motor racing delights. More details to follow on the weekend that transcends its status as the best historic race meeting in the world.
Wales Rally GB – 1st November
By the start of the British winter, the full picture of ‘Tänak vs Ogier take two’ will have emerged into focus. The Welsh forests offer a stern challenge for the world’s finest rally crews. Restored to a November date more in keeping with its hardcore traditions, Wales Rally GB offers a perfect – if chilly – coda to the British motorsport season. Just don’t forget your bobble hat.
Images courtesy of Motorsport Images and Jayson Fong.
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